Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Ageless Selanne gives Ducks extra punch
By Craig Custance
Teemu Selanne's third-period goal gave Anaheim all it needed to top Detroit in Game 1.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was the most valuable hockey card in 9-year-old Ben Lovejoy’s collection, so he remembers it well. A 1991-92 Upper Deck Teemu Selanne rookie card, worth $4.
“Through having that card, I became a fan of his,” Lovejoy told ESPN The Magazine following the Anaheim Ducks' 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of their first-round series.
So, yeah, it was pretty cool to be the guy setting up Selanne on a power-play goal early in the third period that ended up being the game-winner.
Lovejoy’s job on the power play is fairly simple: shoot the puck and make sure the Ducks don’t get scored on. Moments before setting up Selanne, he had a shot blocked by Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
When he got the puck again at the point, he now had a little more space to operate.
“I think that I got a little respect that second play. I looked [Sheldon Souray] off and passed it to the legend,” Lovejoy, who came over from the Penguins in a February trade, said. “I’ve played with some good players so far in my career. I’ve learned that you pass to people who are better than you.”
It’s a pretty solid strategy, and a moment later the Ducks had the lead. One they wouldn’t surrender.
It was playoff goal No. 42 for the 42-year-old Selanne, and those goals never get old. Not for those witnessing or for the legend himself.
“Absolutely,” he said. “When you have a passion for [scoring] goals it doesn’t matter how old you are. Maybe the celebrations go down a little, but inside it’s [the] same feeling.”
The Ducks had one of the best power plays in the league this season, finishing No. 4 overall at 21.5 percent, and scored twice with an advantage against the Red Wings; this might signal a matchup Anaheim can expose in this series. Detroit’s penalty kill struggled early on this season and dramatically improved as the season progressed, finishing at No. 12 in the league during the regular season. But the Anaheim power play was the reason the Ducks have jumped out to a 1-0 lead in this series and has the talent to continue that success moving forward.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has all kinds of skill at his disposal on the two units, including a mix of talent at the point in guys like Cam Fowler and Souray, along with high-end offensive producers like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Nick Bonino and his puck-retrieving prowess make it all work.
And, of course, there’s the legend Selanne, who can change a game with one shot like he did when he beat Jimmy Howard short side. Like he’s been doing for years, going all the way back to that kid on the hockey card.
“This is the best time for the hockey player -- every shift, every shot, every goal matters,” Selanne said. “That’s why it’s so special.”